The Hoops Manifesto has teamed up with some of the world wide web's best NBA writers - the Bloguin family - to get you prepared for the 2010/11 NBA season. Consider this your NBA cheat sheet, all the info you need to know heading into the year. Next up: player and coach predictions.
Panelists: Jeff Fox from The Hoops Manifesto, LIVES and PEACEMAN from Knicks Fanatics, College Wolf from TWolves Blog, Brendan Bowers from Stepien Rules, Sean Francois from Hoops Head North, Philip from Orlando Magic Daily, Mookie from A Stern Warning and Don from With Malice.
Consensus: Kevin Durant
Jeff Fox: Kevin Durant. Most times it seems the MVP is decided even before the season begins, and this year the consensus is that it is Durant's time to win it.
PEACEMAN: Durant all the way!
LIVES: LeBron James will out-perform expectations and mesmerize the league with his brute will and unstoppable strength.
College Wolf: Durant. I don't care if this is the "trendy" pick. I've been proclaiming Durant's greatness since before his rookie season. Unless the Heat win 70+ games and/or LeBron averages a triple-double on the season, he took himself out of contention by signing with Miami.
Brendan Bowers: Rajon Rondo - He will capitalize on last season's postseason run and put up monster numbers this year.
Sean Francois: Kobe Bryant.I know what you're saying..."What? Not Kevin Durant"?! Granted Kobe is dealing with that ongoing finger arthritis, but we all know that didn't stop him last season - averaging 27 points, 5 boards, and 5 dimes. In his 2007-2008 MVP campaign season he averaged 28 points, 6 boards, and 5 dimes, so his production is virtually the same as it was when he was named the best in the league. I think he wants to further cement his place in NBA history, and because of that drive & desire he'll be able to capture his second Maurice Podoloff trophy.
Philip: Dwight Howard - OK, so I am a homer (again). But this one actually makes more sens than my Finals pick, I swear. Dwight Howard is already the league's most dominant defensive player. Everyone is waiting for his offense to come along. This year, I think, he makes that leap and becomes the type of player that can carry a team until the final moments (where his free throw shooting will still hurt him). Howard has displayed a lot more patience in the post and looks ready for a breakout offensive season after working with Hakeem Olajuwon over the summer.
Mookie: Chris Paul- He will return and surprise the many people who have semi-forgotten him. There is no one else in Nawlins to do what he does.
Don: Kevin Durant
Rookie of the Year
Consensus: Blake Griffin
Jeff Fox: John Wall. But look out for Blake Griffin and Tiago Splitter.
PEACEMAN: Going out on a limb..but if Melo comes to NY...Landry Fields.
LIVES: Blake Griffin with the force of a Mack truck dunk while hopping over a moving Wall.
College Wolf: Blake Griffin. Holy @!)% have you seen this guy?!? I like Wall, but perhaps he has shooting issues? Cousins is my dark horse. He'll miss too much time on the court though, I think, due to foul issues and the number of big men the Kings have. He'll have some monster games, but will also disappear for stretches at a time.
Brendan Bowers: Blake Griffin - Wall will finish second, but Griffin is a beast.
Sean Francois: John Wall - Based on the number of minutes he's going to play and his dynamic skill set, I think he'll have the best opportunity of this year's rookie class to continue to display what we all got to see in his one and only season with the Kentucky Wildcats.
Philip: Daniel Orton... just kidding, it will be DeMarcus Cousins: Blake Griffin should be the quiet favorite for rookie of the year, but Cousins is going to get the most opportunity to shine. Running with Tyreke Evans would make most anyone better. But Cousins was arguably the best player on that super freshmen Kentucky team last year and is very hungry after dropping to No. 5 and Sacramento.
Don: Blake Griffin
Mookie: John Wall - Who else?
First Team All-NBA
Consensus: Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant, Dwight Howard,
Jeff Fox: Wade, LeBron, Kobe, Durant, Howard.
PEACEMAN: Durant/Westbrook/Howard/Melo/Arenas...yes Arenas!
LIVES: Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant, LeBron James, Derrick Rose, Pau Gasol
College Wolf: Deron Williams, LeBron, Durant, Pau Gasol, Dwight Howard
Brendan Bowers: R. Rondo, L. James, K. Durant, A. Stoudemire, D. Howard
Sean Francois: Chris Paul, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Dirk Nowitzki, Dwight Howard
Philip: Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade, Dwight Howard, LeBron James, Kevin Durant
Mookie: Chris Paul, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant, LeBron James, Dwight Howard
Don: Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Dwight Howard, Kevin Durant, Deron Williams
Breakout Player of the Year
Jeff Fox: Andrea Bargnani. This isn't to say that Bargnani is going to have a better year than last year, but with Chris Bosh out of town he'll be "The Man" now, which should equal inflated stats and therefore more people considering him a "star".
PEACEMAN: DJ Augustin...watch what happens w/o Felton
LIVES: Darrell Arthur
College Wolf: I can't pick one. I mean seriously, throw a dart between J.J. Hickson, Austin Daye, Roy Hibbert, Amir Johnson, Anthony Randolph, Darren Collison. All are benefiting greatly from a change of scenery and/or a huge increase in playing time.
Brendan Bowers: J.J. Hickson- Hickson will go from averaging 8.5 points per game last season to becoming a fringe All Star. He will more than double his points and rebound totals from a year ago for the Cavaliers this season, and finish with averages of 18 and 10.
Sean Francois: Derrick Rose: Star player becomes superstar. I believe the Bulls have positioned themselves to take that next step towards being a legitimate team in the talks of the upper echelon teams of the league. Derrick worked on specific parts of his game, especially long range shooting, which were on display this summer in Turkey as USA went on to capture the FIBA World Championship. He has openly said he wants to become the NBA MVP eventually, and I'm drinking the Kool-Aid!
Philip: Kevin Love- with Al Jefferson out of the way, the power forward spot is all Love's to dominate. Most may not know this, but there is only one better rebounder percentage-wise than Love. He should put it all together in his third season with a true chance to shine in Kurt Rambis' offense.
Mookie: Danilo Gallinari - as long as he can stay healthy, this guy is as legit a scorer as they come and has a superb basketball IQ.
Don: Deron Williams is acknowledged as the best point guard in the NBA. Does that count? If not, then Darren Collison is considered truly elite after a stand out performance at Indiana, where he and Danny Granger get to the playoffs.
Fall Off The Cliff Player of the Year (player whose game regresses the most)
Jeff Fox: Kevin Garnett. Garnett has been on a slow slide as it was the past few years, but look for age and injuries to really drastically increase that slide this season.
PEACEMAN: Chris Bosh.....remember I said that!
LIVES: Devin Harris
College Wolf: Vince Carter. All I've got to say here is that I wouldn't even draft him with YOUR fantasy team.
Brendan Bowers: Joe Johnson - with contract in hand, Joe Johnson will not be heard from as much as he was last season down in the ATL.
Sean Francois: Gilbert Arenas - because of his current indifference to playing, he's my choice for 'Fall off a Cliff' player of the year. He even started to show that this preseason with his reserved approach towards the media, and faking an injury so that his teammate Nick Young could get the start. Agent Zero has a ton of talent, but I think given his current Washington situation (no one to blame but himself) will result in a poor season for 'Hibachi'.
Philip: Joe Johnson - Atlanta is trying to move away from its one-on-one dominated offense to a more motion offense. But signing that gargantuan contract is going to put a lot of pressure on Johnson to deliver more than he has and push Atlanta further. He will not be able to deliver.
Mookie: Rashard Lewis - I just have a feeling that he is going to be very average this season. Trust me. Or don't.
Don: Yao Ming succumbs to injury prior to the All-Star break, retires.
Which O'Neal will have the better season in Boston?
Jeff Fox: Shaq, but this question is like asking someone on death row how he wants to die - there are no good options!
PEACEMAN: A tight race but Shaq will win over Jermaine!
LIVES: Shaq will have a better year because he is a bigger presence on and off the court. Even with no game left in his tank, he would have more left than Jermaine.
College Wolf: Shaq. Who knows how much Jermaine will even play with his myriad of injuries. Plus Shaq had himself a nice little pre-season. Plus he's Shaq.
Brendan Bowers: They will both be irrelevant, but Shaq will have a game or two in the playoffs which will edge him past Jermaine to take this honor.
Sean Francois: I think Jermaine O'Neal will have a better season statistically, but Shaquille O'Neal is the instant fan favourite.
Philip: Shaunie O'Neal (but really Jermaine) - the second season of Basketball Wives promises to be very special this year on VH1. But seriously, Jermaine O'Neal will have a better year. He is a more agile defender (just by body mass) and can step out and hit the jumper -something that Kendrick Perkins can't do. Shaq is just a big body clogging up the paint at this point in his career. It would be tough to have Shaq and Kevin Garnett on the floor at the same time.
Mookie: Shaquille will play 65 fantastic games for the Celts.
Coach on the hottest seat
Consensus: Erik Spoelstra
Jeff Fox: Erik Spoelstra. He's in a no-win situation - he's expected to win a title, so he won't be praised if they do. But if the Heat struggle early... look out.
LIVES: Mike D'Antoni
College Wolf: Erik Spoelstra. This one seems rather self explanatory.
Brendan Bowers: Erik Spoelstra. LeBron speaks affectionately of "Coach Spoel" now, but he will eventually turn on him. Enter Pat Riley to save the day, as Spoelstra reaches out to Stan Van Gundy for an assistant coaching job next season.
Sean Francois: Keith Smart- Golden State Warriors. With the NBA having so many new or 2nd year head coaches with various team, I think Smart will be given the smallest margin of error. With Nellie now paid to stay retired, Smart has been given full coaching responsibilities. The Warriors' roster is loaded with young talent, but if it doesn't appear that Smart is able to get these players working together and show signs of improvement in the win column over last season, I think owner Joe Lacob will look externally for his next coaching candidate.
Philip: Rick Carlisle - Dallas is hungry for a championship and you never know what Mark Cuban is going to do. The Mavericks have been consistently good, but they failed to get out of the first round last year despite having the second best record in the Western Conference and winning the Southwest Division. Cuban is going to want a bigger return on investment this year.
Mookie: Erik Spoelstra - all that talent... one little slip-up and guess who jumps back in?
Don: Erik Spoelstra.
Will Erik Spoelstra last the full season with Miami?
Jeff Fox: Not a chance. Not with glory hog Pat Riley waiting in the wings. But don't believe me, just ask Stan Van Gundy!
PEACEMAN: No, the guy who looks like Van Gundy with hair will be replaced by Riley after 20 games!
LIVES: He will absolutely make it to the end of the season because Wade does not want Riley to coach this squad and he will do everything possible to make Spoelstra look good.
College Wolf: Yes. LeBron is that good.
Brendan Bowers: No.
Sean Francois: I expect the Miami Heat to do well this season. Even if D-Wade or any of the other 'Superfriends' are out for any period of time, there are two others to pick up the slack...provided it's not LeBron and Dwyane who are both out at the same time. I think we all see the potential for Pat Riley to pull the same stunt he did on 'Stan Van Gundy' again, but as long as the Heat stay in the win column I think Erik's job is safe...for now.
Check out 2010/11 NBA Cheat Sheet Part 1: Team Predictions right here.